I went down to the bank today and picked up a cashiers check to send off with my taxes, and I spent some time thinking about how docile and complacent American are when it comes to paying income taxes. Right wing, left wing, liberal, conservative, kook and anarchist alike we all stand in line and send Uncle Sam his hunk of flesh. We do it willingly and many of my fellow citizens regardless of what side of the political aisle they fall, believe it to be their Patriotic Duty to pay income taxes. It is the price we pay to live in the land that created such excellent opportunities for so many of us.
I am well aware that one of the reasons I send RBFC (really Big —- Check) to the feds several times a year is because I live in a country where I have been fortunate enough to earn a pretty good living doing what I love to do. That government, however, plays very little role in my success and in fact, most businessmen and entrepreneurs will tell you that the government is often one of the biggest obstacles to their success. It’s the people, the culture the entrepreneurial spirit, the heart of the American People that have allowed me to succeed. The Federal Government does not help people succeed by any stretch of the imagination. They do not create jobs. The land of the free that gives us all such a fantastic opportunity has very little to do with the tax dollars we send off to DC.
Think about where all that money is actually going. It’s going to fund agencies that oversee every detail of your life and pay the salaries of bureaucrats whose whole mission in life is to bring the weight of the Federal Government down on your head if you are unfortunate enough to fail to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. It is going to fund programs that you may or may not agree with, but you are paying for them anyway. You are paying the salaries of the 535 idiots in the Capital Building who use the shield of public service to grow their own power and wealth. You are paying for a random series of undeclared wars all over the planet.
You are most assuredly NOT paying to end poverty. President Johnson declared war on poverty in 1965 and poverty is winning. Childhood poverty rates have gone UP since 1965 in spite of all the trillions of dollars thrown at the problem.
You are NOT paying to improve the educations system. Is there anyone out there who really thinks the US educational system has gotten better since it was elevated to a cabinet-level position in 1979? It has gotten broadly worse and especially so in those areas where improvement is most needed, the inner cities and poor region of the country have gone into dramatic decline.
The Federal Government has two main purposes- the common defense and a level playing field for commerce. We have done an outstanding job of defense if a little over-zealous at times We do an okay job of commerce but when it comes to acting as a social regulator and charitable office that the Feds fail. Unfortunately, a staggering amount of money is spent in those capacities.
No matter how well intentioned you may believe the Federal Government is –and if you believe they are well intended you may need some therapy to deal with delusional behavior- the fact is they waste a lot of money. Consider these programs that were paid for with tax dollars over the past few years:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum
Sending Pakistani Children to Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama
$370 million annually in “prevented planting” crop insurance to farmers who cannot plant their crops in Seasonal Wetlands
$175,950 grant to research ways to better predict a person’s feelings about the decisions they make
$380k grant to study how social relationships in college contribute to weight-related problems
Army research study into the bomb-detecting abilities of elephants
$391,000 to a university to develop a website to teach children about dog bites.
$300,000 for a cheese heritage center
$1.2 million to assess the effects of microgravity on sheep
$2 million to hire a team of musicians and researchers to develop robotic music computers to perform a trumpet solo and jam with human musicians.
$1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate how a foam koozie keeps a can of cold beer cool on a hot day
$200,000 to academics to study foods that were part of the Tanzanian diet in the 1500s.
$458 million paid out inappropriately for travel expense reimbursements, including $1 million in travel
reimbursements for unauthorized spending at casinos and strip clubs
$375 million for Missile Defense Agency (MDA) targets that weren’t used or didn’t work
$84,680,000 for House office buildings under the Architect of the Capitol
$66,550,000 for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation that aims to help grow and strengthen democratic institutions around the world
$5,000,000 for the Asia Foundation, which is “committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia
$48,500 to pen the definitive history of smoking in Russia over the past 130 years
$3.1 billion on vacation for federal employees placed on administrative leave
$65,473 to figure out what bugs do near a lightbulb
$35,000 for solar-powered beer
The sad part is that it took just very superficial research to uncover these wasteful items. There is a lot more than I haven’t even touched on. The Federal Government is a giant bureaucracy with all the faults and failings of giant institutions. It is heartless and often mindless, and it consumes an ever larger percentage of our national income. It is filled with narrow minded little men and women who are convinced that by issuing you instructions on how to cook your food, raise your child, mow your grass, do your job, drive your car- up to and including what kind of car you drive they are doing God’s work, and they are perfectly willing to put you in jail for your own good should you disagree.
I don’t care if you lean to the left or right you should be pissed off when you mail in that tax check this week. Even if you get a refund keep in mind, you have merely lent the government money with no interest over the past year. Most of that money will be wasted on things that do not improve your life one little bit. You should be pissed and mightily so.
You do have to pay them. I will pay mine but not out of patriotic duty. It is because if I don’t, they will send people with guns to take my property for the use of the state and put me in jail.
I love my country. I love its people and its vision. I don’t love the outright theft of my money at the point of a gun for wasteful and often idiotic purposes that I do not support or endorse.
Thus endeth the tax day rant. We shall now return to markets books and baseball